Mark Desetti Alumni Profile

Mark Desetti headshot
Distinguished Alumni Award

Former Director of Governmental Affairs, Kansas NEA and Retired Elementary Teacher

Mark Desetti graduated from Kent State University in 1977 with degrees in telecommunications (radio and television production) and early childhood education with an eye on pursuing a career in children’s television. He did that briefly after teaching kindergarten and then working for Western Instructional Television, a producer of instructional television programs that ran on the PBS daytime schedules years ago. But his love of teaching took him back to the classroom as a bilingual elementary school teacher and an ESL and bilingual education program specialist.

In his desire to continually improve his teaching and to improve public schools in general, Mark became involved in teacher professional development and from that to serving on a standards writing committee for the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing where he helped to write the state’s bilingual and cross-cultural language acquisition and development standards fro teacher education programs. He also served on multiple program review teams visiting colleges of teacher education in California to ensure that their ESL and bilingual teacher training programs were meeting high standards.

Mark became involved in teacher and public school advocacy through the California Teachers Association and the National Education Association and in 1992 began working for the Texas State Teachers Association as their Coordinator of Instruction and Professional Development and Agency Relations. This led to a position as the Director of Communications and Instructional Issues with the Arkansas Education Association and then Director of Instructional Advocacy and Government Relations with the Kansas National Education Association.

Since 2003, Mark has served as the chief legislative lobbyist for the Kansas NEA where he led efforts to improve support for teacher mentoring programs, national board certification, teacher professional standards, teacher rights, and adequate and equitable funding for Kansas public schools.

He has been a presenter at many education conferences on issues including sheltered English instruction, special education inclusion practices, cooperative learning, and teacher evaluation as well as political action and legislative advocacy.

In his free time, he has helped raise his four children - one of whom graduated from the College of Health and Human Services at Kent State in 2011 - and served his community as a member of the city’s bicycle advisory committee, the Board of Directors of the Friends of the Topeka Zoo, and as an adult leader in Venture Scouting.